So a few weekends ago, on the weekend of the 24th November 2018 I went to Belgium for the penultimate time this year. Now I know I am in the winter’s training regime and I am still travelling to Belgium, crazy. But this time it was for different reason other than racing. Almost a more important reason than the racing itself. A time to get to know my new team mates for the 2019 season…
Yes, you guessed it was a team-building weekend, and a very enjoyable weekend at that. My new team mates were very friendly and a completely different atmosphere to that I have been used to over the last couple of years. In fact it was the most team-like atmosphere I have ever been in. Thankfully, this was helped by my team mates being very talented in their languages – at least two of them spoke about 5 languages. This has given me the incentive to learn the Dutch/Flemish language, and I am finding it very difficult, although I don’t see it as an impossible feat. Definitely one of the hardest languages to learn, I have to say, even coming from a guy with little to no experience learning languages.
Throughout the first day we were given multiple, challenging tasks that we had to complete as a team. Some of these were utterly bonkers. But before I get onto the craziest task, let me take you back to the changing rooms when we were preparing for the day. The organiser for the day, suddenly came out with “pack a spare bag, you might get wet!” Naturally at this point I am panicking a little bit, having only brought one set of clothes, I had to sacrifice some of my “Sunday” clothes to prepare for what was to come.
Now the bit you have been waiting for, but first let me set the scene. We had just completed one task of climbing down a near vertical slide which was the length of nearly three people, so our morale was very high. After we were walking around the lake’s edge, and guess what came into view … A CLIMBING FRAME ON WATER!! Suddenly we all went a bit soft and a bit panicky, to say the least. We were placed in pairs and surprise, surprise my group were the last to go off. Although the torture of knowing what was to come was bad for me, it must have been much worse for my BLIND-FOLDED teammate, Axel van der Tuuk. After a long wait, and even longer wait for Axel, we finally got onto the beam. Now this was the shakiest beam you could think of, and Axel, stuck with his guides, almost went in, and I mean went in. His foot hit the water, the frame became lopsided and he almost took both of us in with him. Fortunately the clothes, which were gambled, stayed dry.
In the afternoon, we played a competition put on by the organisers. *SPOILER*… my team won! We came second and third in almost every activity and placed our joker (gaining double points) on the most British game you can think of. The notorious bean-bag race, but with a twist. These were gravel bags big enough to fit all three people. Safe to say I ended up being in the sand a couple of times.
Finally, we went bowling, and what an atmosphere, even learned a new, awesome song called “leef” meaning “live.” You do need a good beat and a whole raft of people to make the song really uplifting.
I can’t go into huge details because I will be here all night talking about it, and instead of being a blog post, this will turn into a 5000-word dissertation. 600 words already.
Now (better late than never) moving onto Sunday’s activities. Fortunately the events of today were much more simple. They consisted of an early, but freezing, walk to the beach for some photos, and a ride following a filling breakfast.
The first half of the ride was very enjoyable, riding onto the beach and into the woods near the sea front. The beach section of the ride was very tiring indeed, especially after I dropped my bottle and had to chase back to the group. But again I emphasise how fun this part was. If you are near the beach and have a cross/mountain bike I urge you to take it to the beach you will have soooo much fun.
Much to my dismay, we left the beach and never returned and remained on farm tracks and road for the majority of the last ¾ of the ride. Unfortunately the day did not go plain sailing, with a crash from my teammate Yarron Logghe. He broke his spoke, and miraculously rode it all the way home without any trouble, hell, he even did an effort on the front with me and stayed on my wheel. I mean I was going hard and he could stay with a broken spoke, WOW. Also, many of you know how much I love cobblestones, and my god the cyclocross bike makes it much more enjoyable for the same effort.
However, it does take away from the natural feel of the cobblestones that are so iconic. Anyway that was all the interesting points from the day, an awesome ride with the teammates and I look forward to the next one where we ride our road bike, what we are actually on the team for.
The weekend rounded out with a quick first aid course, my first one … and it happened to be in Dutch.
I am really looking forward to the next one where we pick up all our equipment for the New Year and have a quick spin on the road bikes.
Cheers to Spiderking-Soenens for this opportunity and Trainsharp for my training which I am loving more than ever at the moment. I guess that comes with the motivation to succeed next year.
Over ‘n’ out for the penultimate time this year.
p.s. remember I have a quick round-up from the 2018 season coming soon, including some stats from the whole year.